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Organizations Providing Same-Sex Domestic Partner Benefits

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Same-Sex Domestic Partner Health Care Coverage is a benefit that recognizes the committed relationship of two unrelated people of the same sex as the approximate equivalent of marriage. It is calculated by dividing the number of organizations that offer same-sex domestic partner health care benefits by the total number of organizations that offer employer-sponsored health care coverage.

In today’s competitive job market, employee benefits packages can be a very powerful tool for recruiting and retaining top talent. Whereas 33 percent of organizations overall offer same-sex domestic partner benefits,1 80 percent of Fortune 100 companies offer this benefit.2 In addition to contributing to the attraction and retention of gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender (GLBT) employees, inclusive organizational benefits such as same-sex partner benefits may contribute to a greater sense of overall acceptance and diversity in an organization. In fact, research has supported that there are fewer reports of sexual orientation-related discrimination in organizations where supportive policies, such as same-sex partner health care benefits, are in place.3

Prevalence of same-sex domestic partner health care coverage also may vary by industry and company size. Only 11 percent of organizations in the manufacturing (nondurable goods) industry with one to 99 full time equivalent employees (FTEs) offered same-sex domestic partner health care coverage. However, 43 percent of organizations in the high-tech industry with one to 99 FTEs offered same-sex domestic partner health care benefits to their employees.4 Several factors may influence an organization’s decision to offer the benefit, including the values of the organization and the competitiveness of the job market for that organization’s workforce.

Although same-sex domestic partner benefits were designed so organizations could extend health care coverage and other benefits to the families of employees who are in long-term, committed relationships but cannot marry, some organizations choose to offer opposite-sex domestic partner benefits as well. Opposite-sex domestic partner benefits are benefits offered to the opposite sex partner of an employee who is in a long-term, committed relationship.

As the fight for top talent intensifies and the emphasis on diversity continues to grow, it is important for companies to know where they stand in relation to their competitors when it comes to providing same-sex partner health care benefits. HR professionals may find it helpful to use hard data about health care benefits practices from competing organizations in order to justify changes in their own health care benefits coverage.

For additional benchmarking data and to learn how the SHRM Customized Benchmarking Service can take your HR department to the next level, please visit our website at or call 1-800-283-7476 ext. 6366.


1SHRM 2007 Benefits Survey Report. Retrieved October 1, 2007, from

2 Human Rights Campaign Foundation (2007). 2006-2007 The State of the Workplace for Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender Americans. Retrieved October 1, 2007, from

3 Ragins, B.R & Cornwell, J.M. (2001). Pink triangles: Antecedents and consequences of perceived workplace discrimination against gay and lesbian employees. Journal of Applied Psychology, 86(6), 1244-1261.

4 2007 SHRM Customized Benchmarking Database [unpublished data].

Project Team

Project Leader: Katherine M. Ryan, Strategic Research

Project Contributors: Andrew Mariotti, Strategic Research Specialist; John Dooney, Manager, Strategic Research; Steve Williams, Ph.D., SPHR, Director, Research Department

Editor: Nicole Gray, Editorial Assistant


This article is published by the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM). All content is for informational purposes only and is not to be construed as a guaranteed outcome. The Society for Human Resource Management cannot accept responsibility for any errors or omissions or any liability resulting from the use or misuse of any such information

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